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Do raw, unfermented foods have probiotics?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 29, 2013 at 5:57 AM

Cooked food is devoid of micro-organisms, while raw food has some, and fermented food has a ton. I've always conceptualized it this way: Raw food has enough enzymes etc to deal with its own digestion, whereas cooked food doesn't, and fermented food has more than enough. So what you do is have it so any cooked food that's included is balanced out by fermented food. The micro-organisms lacking in the cooked food is made up for from overabundance in the fermented food.

But then my question becomes, does raw food have probiotics, or just enzymes? I'm asking this because I'm wondering whether a diet high in cooked food could damage the gut flora, because if raw food has probiotics, it would suggest that you would need probiotics from fermented food to balance out the deficiency one would otherwise have if one's diet is high in cooked food and low in raw and fermented.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on April 12, 2013
at 06:38 PM

I thought it was only fruit that had enzymes to help with digestion.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on April 12, 2013
at 06:26 PM

I thought was only fruit that had enzymes to help with digestion.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on April 01, 2013
at 11:41 PM

that sounds plausible

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on March 29, 2013
at 06:03 PM

I have heard a theory that ancient humans were pushed to the coasts by climate change, and figured out how to eat seafood, and the concentrated source of protein allowed them to evolve better brains.

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4 Answers

1
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on April 12, 2013
at 08:00 PM

Happy now beat me to it. I posit that papaya and pineapple, as well as homegrown sprouts and ginger, have digestive enzymes, the sprouts simply because they recently had to digest a seed to form new tissue.

Fruits do aid digestion though not in an enzymatic way, and all over the Mediterranean for example the dietary norm is to finish each meal with some fruit (this is prevalent also in parts of Eastern Africa). My guess is that was an evolutionary response to grains eating, since fruit acidity (vit. C, but also malic and other major acids) bind to and improve the absorption of minerals (in particular iron). Effectively, a pH=3.5 apple at the end of the meal counteracts phytates. It will also help those with low stomach acid. A glass of pH=3.5 wine, a dressing with pH=2.7 vinegar, will work similarly, though I find that acid fruits are easiest on my system. Easiest easiest is probably the pH=2.8 Concord grape, for me.

1
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on April 12, 2013
at 06:37 PM

We are very well equipped to digest cooked food. It is to a certain extent an imperative to have had the cells walls in some the fibrous foods we eat pre-softened by heat or we can't digest them as well. Being human we have large intestines far too short to derive sufficient nutrients from a plant-based raw diet, we are not gorillas. I've seen it theorized that eating too much raw food actually runs down our enzyme supplies over time because they are harder to break down than their cooked counterparts. I saw a thing in a raw food cookbook last night that said humans had only been eating cooked food for 12,000 years, which is pure hogwash. That might be when pottery came into vogue, but use of fire for cooking, earthen ovens, and "pouch" cooking go back waaaaaay before that, more like 250,000 years.

As far as all food having probiotics, every bite of food, cooked or not, will have bacteria on it. Something that has recently been boiled will have less bacteria, but if you leave it out for even a half hour it'll pick up the local microbes, that is why you can do wild fermentation without having to add extra cultures.

As far as needing to overshoot with fermented foods to deal with a lack of bacteria on cooked food...maybe? But I seriously doubt eating mostly cooked food will deplete you of enzymes. The most effective digestive enzymes are from tropical fruits, so make of that what you will.

0
B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on March 29, 2013
at 05:58 PM

we would not be as evolved as we are without cooked food

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on March 29, 2013
at 06:03 PM

I have heard a theory that ancient humans were pushed to the coasts by climate change, and figured out how to eat seafood, and the concentrated source of protein allowed them to evolve better brains.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on April 01, 2013
at 11:41 PM

that sounds plausible

0
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on March 29, 2013
at 03:44 PM

Technically probiotics are live micro-organisms in your food. Probably all food has at least some of those, since bacteria are everywhere. But in terms of an amount of probiotics that would affect your digestion/nutrition, I think that most raw food, especially stuff you buy in the grocery store which has probably been washed, waxed, irradiated, stored, refrigerated, etc. would have a negligible amount.

If you picked a grape from the middle of a field it would probably have small amounts of naturally occurring yeast and such. But I would guess that isn't a meaningful amount of micro-biotics. That grape might have better nutrition than one in the grocery store though, being fresher and being closer to the source.

As a generalization I don't think cooked food damages healthy gut flora, though a diet high in sugars, processed foods, chemicals, preservatives, etc. can. Not quite the same thing.

There are studies that show that food that is fermented but no longer contains live cultures (such as most alcoholic drinks) still provide some benefits, so it could be that something left behind by the micro-biotics is beneficial. The microbes are probably destroyed during digestion anyway.

Bottom line I don't think there is any good substitute for "live" food in terms of probiotics.

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